From Our Archives: Should Every Seller Get Their Home Appraised?

by Mark Wellborn

Reality Check: Should Every Seller Get Their Home Appraised?

Back in January, we wrote a piece asking if home sellers should have their property appraised. We interviewed professionals who made good cases both for and against appraisals. We are republishing the article today considering that the issue has been in the news frequently over the last month.

(This article was originally published on January 9, 2009.)

In an interview with the Washington Business Journal in early December, Long & Foster’s new president Dave Stevens noted that in order to manage sellers’ (sometimes unrealistic) expectations in the current climate, agents are encouraging their clients to get an appraisal before they put their home on the market “to give them a reality check.” We talked to a few area brokers and found out that there are varying schools of thought on this type of reality check.

Michael Dillon of DC’s RealAstute.com Home Team told UrbanTurf that his team started doing appraisals about two years ago when he felt like the market was starting to shift and sellers were being unrealistic about the value of their home.

“We decided that we needed some help in reining in sellers’ expectations,” Dillon said. “I can tell a seller that their house is not worth as much as they think it is until I am blue in the face but it helps to have a third party telling them as well.”

Dillon noted that there is only backlash from a seller if the appraisal numbers come back significantly lower than what they were expecting. If that happens, he sits down with the seller and explains that if the home is put on the market for much more than its appraised value, there is a good chance that there will be a price reduction down the road. This can often be a more expensive proposition than if the home was priced accurately when it first hit the market. If the seller insists on keeping the price high, Dillon goes with the price on the condition that he can lower it after a certain number of days.

“These days we won’t take a listing if the seller refuses to have it appraised,” Dillon said. “And most of the time, sellers are willing to do it. It is not as bad as it was a year or so ago when people were unwilling to wake up to the new realities of the market.”

Not all brokers are as wildly in favor of appraisals as Dillon.

“Managing the seller’s expectations is always key,” James Edwards of Edwards Realty told UrbanTurf. “Though truthfully, I put little faith in appraisers.”

Edwards’ qualm with appraisers is that when the market was going up, he believes that they would “appraise the house for just about any price.” This had the effect of property prices in some areas doubling in just a couple of years. Edwards thinks that this was because the appraised values were largely being made up.

“Now that prices are falling and the true value of a property is anyone’s guess, I tend not to rely on appraisers,” Edwards said. “They cost money, and as an agent, I’m going to prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for the seller anyway which pulls from the same data.”

Edwards noted that his CMA is geared towards finding a price at which the house might actually sell, whereas an appraisal might come up with entirely different numbers that don’t exactly reflect the true market price of the house.

“If the appraiser comes back with a higher value than your CMA, then as an agent, you’ve just shot yourself in the foot and cost your client $350 to boot,” Edwards told UrbanTurf.

Regardless of where you might stand when it comes to appraisals, it sounds like the trend has not caught on across the area just yet. Dave Stevens estimated that just about ten percent of sellers are getting their home appraised before they put it on the market. However, if the state of the market remains uncertain, it will likely become a crucial part of a seller’s preparation.


Join the discussion

UrbanTurf now requires registration in order to post comments. Register here, or login below if you are already registered.

Click here if you forgot your password.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾